Congressional Update: No Govt. Shutdown For Now; New COVID Plan; FTC Investigation
Thursday, Congress reached an agreement to continue government funding at fiscal year 2021 levels through February 18, 2022.
No Senate Budget Action
Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to focus in earnest on the House-passed Build Back Better Act (BBB) – President’s Biden’s $1.75 trillion tax-and-spend package covering the Administration’s priority issues including climate change, education, and healthcare.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the Senate would take up the bill the week of December 13, but many view this as an overly ambitious timeline given ongoing policy objections from Senators Manchin (D-WV), Sinema (D-AZ), and others.
New COVID Plan
While Congress addresses a large December to-do list, President Biden continues to take steps to address issues related to inflation, supply chains, and the emerging Omicron COVID-19 variant. Read more here.
The Biden Administration said it has no plans to change the timing or amount of its planned oil release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves in an effort to further reduce gasoline prices.
Many speculated that the Administration would rethink its strategy given the recent decline in oil prices following developments from Russia and OPEC.
This week, 18 House Republicans, led by Congressman Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), sent a letter to President Biden expressing concern over his actions encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate oil and gas companies over allegations of price-gouging regarding the recent rises in gas prices.
The group of House Republicans argued that President Biden’s “request for an FTC investigation into gasoline prices is nothing more than misdirection to avert the public’s attention from [the] Administration’s failed energy policies.
“The suggested antitrust investigation is an inappropriate response to market effects caused by government action. If [the President’s] true intention is to lower consumer costs for American households at the gas pump, [letter signatories] encourage [President Biden] to pursue a more effective approach by reversing these policies and empowering our domestic oil and gas industry to restore the energy independence that we recently enjoyed.”